George Washington Quotes

We try our best to find citations for all sources we include below. Many quote sites fail to provide citations and therefore the quotations in question might not actually be verifiable. Here we only include ones we can find a source for.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

The 110th of the 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, which Washington copied out as a teenager.

We must consult Brother Jonathan.

Attributed to Washington multiple times during the American Revolution. Brother Jonathan is a reference to Jonathan Trumbull, the Governor of Connecticut.

Put none but Americans on guard tonight.

30 April 1777, Circular letter to commanders of regiments.

When we assumed the solider, we did not lay aside the citizen.

26 June, 1775. Letter to New York Legislature.

It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.

14 May, 1787, Speech at Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia.

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

30 April, 1789, First Inaugural Address, New York.

Happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

17 August, 1790. Letter to Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island.

The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitution of government. But the Constitution which at any times exists, ’til changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.

17 September 1796, Farewell Address

It is our true policy to street clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.

17 September 1796, Farewell Address

Avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.

17 September 1796, Farewell Address

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

17 September 1796, Farewell Address

The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.

17 September 1796, Farewell Address

It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.

14 December 1799, Last Words

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

29 July, 1759, Letter of Instructions to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments

Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

2 July, 1776, General Orders, New York Headquarters

The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

27 August, 1776, Address to the Continental Army before the battle of Long Island

There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and redners him fit for command, like a support that renders him independent of everybody but the State he serves.

24 September, 1776. Letter to the President of Congress, Heights of Harlem.

To place any dependence upon militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff.

Letter to the President of Congress, Heights of Harlem.

Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive. And with it, everything honorable and glorious.

15 November, 1781. To Lafayette.

If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

15 March, 1783. Address to officers of the army.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

8 January, 1790. First Annual Address to both Houses of Congress

I heard the bullets whistle; and believe me, there is something charming in the sound.

3rd May, 1754. Letter to his mother.

Wherever and whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty by close application thereto, it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more persons are employed therein.

24th September, 1792. Letter to Henry Knox (Secretary of War)

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.

17th September, 1796. Farewell Address.

True friendship is a plant of slow growth.

15th January, 1783. Letter to Bushrod Washington, his nephew.

The child of avarice, the brother of iniquity, and the father of mischief.

15th January, 1783. On gambling in a letter.

The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey established government.

17th September, 1796. Farewell address.

I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an “Honest Man”.

28th August, 1788. Letter to Alexander Hamilton.

I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.

17th September, 1796. Farewell address.

In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

1747. Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

Guard against the postures of pretend patriotism.

17th September, 1796. Farewell address.

My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.

1st April, 1789. Letter to Henry Knox.

Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.

May 1789. Letter to United Baptist Churches in Virginia.

Let me now … warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party.

Farewell Address

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.

Farewell Address

With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take my leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.

4th December, 1783. Farewell address to officers at Fraunces Tavern, New York City

Necessity, dire necessity, will, nay must, justify my attack.

Attributed. 25th December, 1776.

The land at the point is 20 or 25 feed above the common surface of the water; and a considerable bottom of flat, well-timbered land all around it, very convenient for building.

1754. Journal. On Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From a scouting mission to find the future location for Fort Duquesne.

We pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.

Quoted in Omitted Chapters of History Disclosed in the Life and Papers of Edmund Randolph, by Moncure D. Conway

Men who are familiarized to danger, meet it without shrinking, whereas those who have never seen service often apprehend danger where no danger lies.

9th February, 1776. Letter to the President of the Continental Congress.

We should never despair; our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times.

15th July, 1777. Letter to Major General Philip Schuyler regarding the fall of Fort Ticonderoga.

I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.

Attributed to Washington by Parson Weems in Life of George Washington, 1800.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible.

17th September, 1796. Farewell Address.